“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost
Sometimes, opting for the unconventional makes all the difference. A risk taken while making a choice can bring an unexpected yet beautiful change. When it comes to travelling, a path less traveled can become so much more than just a trip. There are so many popular places that we have in our ‘list of places to visit’, on the contrary there are places so mysterious that we hardly know about them.
One such mystical land far in the mountains claims to be the oldest democracy in the world. People who live there believe that they are descendents of conqueror Alexander the great. Proud to be the purest of all, light-eyed Malanese people live a peculiar life and their land is called Malana.
Not only the breathtakingly beautiful jade mountains under the magnificent sapphire sky will attract you and convince you to travel to this place but the secrets that it has been successfully hiding since ages makes it a land of wonder and awe.
Isolated, the village is stituated in Malana Nala, near the famous Parvati valley and Kullu valley, Himachal Pradesh at a height of 2,652 metres (8,701 ft) above sea level. It takes around two hours to reach Malana valley from Kullu by road via Manikaran road. An 11 kms trek to Malana from Zari, 15 kms prior to Kasol, under the warm sun, amidst waterfalls and forests, gives a chance to explore around till you reach the land that homes untold secrets.
You can choose to trek or take a roadtrip to Malana. When you reach there, the first thought in your mind will be that it looks like any other village of Himachal but once you spot a local and start a conversation you will realize how different and amusing it is.
With every step you take forward, many stories will unfold and the secrets lesser known to the world will be known to you. In some time you will reach that part of the village where their place of worshsip is situated. A temple of their devta (lord) Jamlu Rishi also known as Jamadagni Rishi is called Jamlu Devta Mandir. One glance at it and chills go down one’s spine. The hangings on the walls are skulls and horns of bulls and buffalos and this gives an eerie vibe.
Jamlu Rishi holds a prominent place in Hindu mythology. He is considered to be one of the sapta (seven) rishis and father of Parshurama (Vishnu’s sixth incarnation).
“Untouchable”, that is what you are to them. “Are you a Rajput or a Brahmin?” is probably the first question you will be asked. If you are none of these then you are untouchable to them. You are not allowed to touch anything in the village and if they have a physical contact with you by mistake they have to perform a whole ritual to purify them which involves ‘bali’ (sacrifice of cattle etc.) You will find sign boards which caution you to not touch anything in the village else you will be heavily fined.
If you think this is bizarre then wait because after knowing how their judiciary system works you will have trouble looking for the right word to respond. They have a strong belief system that the deity does the justice. Their lord, Jamlu Rishi makes all the decisions for them. There is a spokesperson who announces all the decisions. It is said that the spokesperson is connected to the lord through telepathy. If there is a case going on between two parties, guilty is proven by a weird method. The forelimb of lambs of both the parties is slit and poison is filled in it. It is stitched back and people wait for the lambs to die. The one whose lamb dies first is announced guilty.
The Malana people consider themselves superior to the rest because of their bloodline. Their unique parliament system still has the essence of Greeks.
There is a similarity in architecture that can be observed easily. All the houses are made of stones and they all look alike.
It is a village of taboos. Since ages, taboos like not fixing your nails on the trees as that can damage the trees, burning wood in the premises of Malana is prohibited and Police intervention is strictly prohibited and if you do so you have to pay a fine of Rs 1000 to the local council.
Inspite of all these weird facts about this village, the place has a captivating charm that keeps the visitor awestruck with its beauty. Their well-organized Parliamentary system and the fact that they do not marry outside to preserve their race makes it one of its kind. The villagers will help you take a tour to the whole place and will guide you too.
Malana’s festivals Malana Fagli (celebrated in mid February) and Malana Shaun (celebrated on August 15) are one of their kinds. People there do not allow you to videograph but they willingly pose for your camera. It is a great place for the photographers as the locals are not at all camera shy.
Pack your bag; take your diary, camera and curiosity to explore this wonderland hidden in faraway mountains.